Arnold Schwarzenegger is the idol of many fitness and workout freaks. Strangely, most overlook one very important aspect of his mindset and philosophy.
Is Being Hard On Yourself All It Takes?
The internet is full of funny little workout motivation pictures, almost all coming with some catchy slogan along the lines of “pain is weakness leaving the body.”
At least half featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Head over to Tumblr and you get the motherload.
I wager that the people who put these pretty little pics together all watched Pumping Iron, that movie where Schwarzenegger is shown grinding away and being as hard as nails on himself. They think this was his secret, sometimes directly copying one of his supposed workout routines.
But more often than not these guy fail achieving their dream body, because the movie showed only half the truth about what Schwarzenegger was about (and actually not his real training either).
If the right genetics, working out hard and being tough on yourself was all it takes, then men with bodies like his should be a dime a dozen.
Schwarzenegger Is A Big Analyzer
In reality, what played a huge role in his success was his analytical mind. The same mind that made him one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the last 30 years and governor of California also made him the most successful bodybuilder of the century.
When I got into the whole workout thing five years ago, I vividly remember reading how he handled an obstacle in his career. In 1966 he entered his first bodybuilding competition and lost, accused of having “non-existent” calves. In true Arnie fashion, instead of hiding them and basking in the glory of his already humongous upper body, he let everyone see his weakness by wearing shorts and made it his goal to get the biggest calves possible.
That part of the message is what usually gets across to the “pain is weakness…” crowd, but they miss the real lesson. Yes, Arnold surely was hard on himself. But what was more important was that he…
- had identified his weakness,
- then examined the available methods of addressing it,
- chose those he deemed most promising for himself
- and then rearranged his workout schedule to that purpose.
This was what really set him up apart from all the other bodybuilders, despite some of them having similar great genetics and working out just as hard. He never blindly grinded away or simply copied someone. He always analyzed his own situation and tailored the solution.
Analyze Your Situation, Too!
If your friend tells you that kickbacks gave him oh-so-much triceps growth, you could still be better off doing skullcrushers. When 50 people tell you that the bench press is the way to a big chest, but bench presses give you shoulder pain, then you may have a shoulder problem they don’t. You need your solution, not theirs.
Be honest with yourself, analyze your personal situation, read up on the possible solutions and then go for the one that works best for you. It might not make you governor of California, but it very likely ends in you having more workout success.
Picture courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.